The 1990 graduate saw opportunity in improving a South Florida necessity.
While many inventors share that opportunity is born of necessity, a Northwood University Florida alumna will happily add that what glitters can sometimes turn to gold.
“If you’ve ever tried to get an unwilling child to put on sunscreen, you can feel my pain,” laughed Dianna (Clark) Akers, a 1990 graduate. “Our family is outside and in the sun a lot, so ensuring that we’re able to protect our skin can be a constant challenge,” shared the Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident of her experience with trying to ensure that her daughters, ages seven and eight, have ample protection from the Sunshine State’s glaring rays.
“I knew I had to develop a way to make the process of wearing sunscreen an enjoyable one, so I visited the local beauty supply store for glitter, but I wasn’t happy with the choices. We continued searching until we found the right one,” explained the real estate agent of 12 years. “My daughters were fascinated by the idea, so I knew it would be helpful to other moms as well.”
And her supporters would soon agree. While sitting poolside one afternoon, Akers’ neighbor and friend, Meredith Madsen, was intrigued after seeing her apply the lotion on the girls, and later suggested they partner to bring the idea to life.
“It’s been a great ride so far,” smiled the inventor. “As we fast forward less than one year later, we’ve expanded the line to include Jungle Screen, a sunscreen and bug repellent with glitter. We’re distributing our original patent pending product to over 150 outlets which range from high-end hotel and resorts to recreational vehicle parks, pharmacies, boutiques, and more,” said Akers. Akers, along with Madsen, owner of an advertising agency, envisions distribution channels to continue expanding from their current Florida, Carolina, Texas, and Caribbean locations.
Officially called “Sparkle Screen SPF 30+ Sunscreen with Glitter and natural ingredients,” the product is just one of several the two plan to include in their line known as Glitter Tots, Akers credits her Northwood experience for playing a role in much of the success she’s gained thus far, with Sparkle Screen and other endeavors.
“It was daunting waiting through the stringent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for final acceptance, but by asking the right questions to understand desired process, procedure, and outcome, I soon got to the point where I became comfortable,” Akers continued, “I knew I had a great idea, then, all the economics, management and case study classes I took at Northwood naturally came into play. When I conceptualized the larger picture and got all the relevant parts in order and managed properly, I soon learned I had a great product, too.”
And the product ingredients have helped to boost sales as well.
“There are many different styles, shapes and sizes of glitter and even more sunscreens on the market, so a lot of research went into the formula for Sparkle Screen. We use only the highest quality non-metallic, BPA free cosmetic grade glitters,“ shared Akers. The product comes in strawberry-vanilla and kiwi-pear scents, it contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, coconut oil, aloe, vitamin E and a host of other natural ingredients.
“Knowing when to apply and re-apply are the most important directions to follow in order to get maximum protection from any sunscreen, but with Sparkle Screen if you don’t see the glitter, you know you’ve missed a spot, and when the glitter is gone you know it’s time to re-apply, and frankly it’s just down right pretty,” added Akers of their patent pending idea.